As the United States Marine Corps celebrates its 235th Birthday on November 10th, 2010, I felt it appropriate to take a look at the Marine Corps' birth place and recognize the impact it had on our country's development. Happy Birthday Marines!
Perhaps best known as the birth place of the United States Marine Corps (November 10th, 1775), Tun Tavern was built in 1685 by a man named Samuel Carpenter. When it was built it sat at the intersection of Water Street and Tun Alley in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The name Tun Tavern was a play on words relating the tavern both to the alley it sat next to (Tun Alley) and the fact that the old English word tun was what we called a beer container. So this was a tun sitting on the corner of Tun. Much later, in the 1740s, a restaurant was added on to the tavern.
Now please understand that while I served in the Army (a quirk of fate actually) I have four older brothers who all served in the Marine Corps (and are therefore Marines until the day they die), and a son who is a Marine. My daughter-in-law is a Marine. One of my best friends is a Marine, though not currently on active duty (once a Marine, always a Marine). So I can't escape the Marine Corps impact on my life even if I wanted to. With such a large Marine Corps impact on my life I can't escape the knowledge that on November 10th in 1775 the Tun Tavern served as the very first recruiting station for the newly formed Continental Marines.
The Continental Congress, on November 5th, 1775 commissioned Samuel Nicholas a Captain of Marines, the first commission issued in the Continental Naval Service. Cpt. Nicholas is generally considered the first Commandant of the Marine Corps. As such his first task was to recruit Marines. Cpt. Nicholas based recruitment efforts at Tun Tavern using then-proprietor Robert Mullan as the "chief Marine Recruiter". And so the United States Marine Corps was born. I know a few folks who would argue that the Marine Corps was actually born on November 5th with that act of the Continental Congress, but I consider arguing with Marines a generally stupid thing to do. I don't think anyone would argue that the United States Marine Corps has played a significant role in the evolution and growth of the United States.
Along the same military lines, in 1756 Benjamin Franklin used Tun Tavern as a recruiting station and gathering point for the Pennsylvania Militia as it prepared to fight against Native American "up risings". Some would say these were aggressive acts on the part of the Indians. Others would say these acts were defensive on the part of the Indians against the white man's incursion into Indian territory and land. Either way, we see that Tun Tavern was used as a military recruiting station at more than one point in our country's history.
Earlier we mentioned the Continental Congress and I had to do some research into those meetings as well. It seems that the Second Continental Congress, meeting in 1775, held one or more meetings at the Tun Tavern. Hmmm... Now we have our country's first legislative body meeting at this pivotal site in our nation's history. The Second Continental Congress established the Continental Army in June of 1775, and we've already seen that they established the Continental Marines in November of that same year.
But it wasn't only governmental and military organizations that have affected the growth of our country, and it wasn't just those organizations that used or formed at the Tun Tavern. Several charitable organizations have started there as well. For those of us who believe that being a warrior doesn't conflict with being charitable, and in fact that both are strong character traits, we might see the Tun Tavern as a location of spiritual birth.